Thursday, June 30, 2016

Robot Kitty SRI Labs: Singapore Exhibition Pre-Orders

Ever since I heard about the first SRI Lab exhibit, I have always wanted to go to one. Unfortunately, I could not physically go there because they always took their tour exhibits around Asia. They had an exhibit in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, and lastly-- Singapore. 

The exhibit in Singapore is now over, but the collectibles from the event is just starting to spread the envy from those who cannot physically join in on the experience of a lifetime.

Robot K and Sanrio,
I beg you from the bottom of my heart. Please bring your very creative exhibition to Los Angeles. We really really and I do mean -- REALLY --- want to experience first hand of this exciting interactive SRI Lab Institute.


a Sanrio Addict

Official Information from their Facebook:

Hello Kitty is going high-tech! Come 11 June 2016, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre will be home to Robot Kitty Singapore, where avid fans can look forward to a quest in becoming engineers at the Sanrio Training Institute. After successful runs in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai, this invigorating showcase will be staged in Hall 403 for 11 days.

The focal highlights of this futuristic event lies within its 5 Interactive Gaming Departments, of which each of them not only serve as a photo attraction in itself, but are well equipped with unique individual missions for Kitty’s engineers-to-be to undertake. 

With an aim for these engineers to be rewarded with interesting parts/accessories upon completion, the challenge whirls around accumulating points via each gaming department by using the Robot K. The redeemed parts/accessories can then be used to “dress up” the Robot K, much to the satisfaction of the engineers. 

The 5 Interactive Gaming Departments are segregated into departments namely Design, Quality Control, Repair, Component and Energy being the final pit stop. Passing each of these departments will require engineers to perform tasks involving some quick coordination of the hands, sense of balance, accuracy and a bit of wit, all within a limited time frame. The Repair Department in particular, engineers will have to try their level best to revive the malfunctioned Robot K via a pair of defibrillators. A game manual will come in handy to guide the engineers through each interactive department, offering some heads-up and tips along the way. Be sure to keep a close lookout for the “Robot A” Check Points as these counters serves to display the engineers’ accumulated points, crucial to what they are able to redeem.

Venue: Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Hall 403

Date: 11 June to 21 June 2016

Time: 10am to 8pm

Ticketing Info:

Adults - S$28.00
Child/Senior Citizen - S$14.00
Robot K - S$38.00

Preview from the Singapore Exhibit

SRI Labs Exhibit in the past - Hong Kong, Taiwan, & Shanghai

Game Entitlements/Elements

What is Robot K and what it is used for?
Robot K is a gaming device figurine that has an RFID chip embedded within. It has the ability to accumulate gaming points also known as “Koins”. With the accumulated gaming points, you are then able to redeem parts/accessories at the end of the game play which can be used to enrich the look of your Robot K.
What is the dimension of Robot K?
Robot K’s height is about 20cm and approximately the height of 2 Fuji apples.

How many Robot K can I purchase?
You can purchase any number of Robot K but only 1 Robot K can be activated per ticket holder at the check-in counter.
How many interactive departments are there at the event?

We have a total of 5 interactive departments namely: Design, Components, Quality Control and Repair with a final pit stop at the Energy department.


Below you will find that I was able to score some goodies from the latest exhibition in Singapore.

The Metal Binder
I am very much in love with this particular binder. The very fact that it is made of metal stands out from all the rest of the Robot Kitty merchandise. The design is very appealing to a Collector like me. The best feature is that the surface is not at all flat. I like the fact that this binder is not ordinary. It's a one-of-a-kind binder that you cannot get anywhere else. Yeah, this binder deserves a spot in my display case. 

HK Metal Binder with notes included

These small figures are another spazz worthy souvenirs that cannot be passed up.

They are cute.
They are precious.
They are adorably futuristic.
They are innovative designed.

Thank you, Sanrio.

Sources Used: Channel News Asia, Robot K SG FAQ, Robot K SG Facebook, Official Robot K Singapore

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Character Cafes

In most articles that I read online states that all character cafes have a short life span. 

I'm left to wonder if the food is at all worth the money spent. Again, are we just paying the price for a work of art? 

Apparently, so --- because that is what attracting crowds to character based restaurants. 

I keep wondering where lies the fault on character icon cafes? Is it the chef or the restaurant itself? Or even both? I thought character cafes would hire the best of the best? Wouldn't they have hired a chef with experience in creating beautiful food art like I have seen on Instagram? Why haven't they hired those individual baker artistes? How about mixing in a Gourmet chef? 

If they can create something magical in the kitchen that satisfies both your tastebuds and beautiful art food, then wouldn't those repeat customers keep coming back?

You can read the article in full here or continue below.

Character cafes hit the town, but are they here to stay?

June 15, 2016 By Claris Ng

TO HAVE an adorable Pokemon face staring at you on your plate, your picture taken with a Pompompurin statuette, and a merchandise corner for you to grab souvenirs, all in one stop? Well, within the past two months, another three character cafes have sprung up in Singapore, with some making their debut in the region here. While some have said the food served seems more ‘Instagram-worthy’ than delicious, fans of these characters have lauded the overall dining experience. The question though is: Will the novelty last?
Here’s what we found when we visited five of them.
1. Hello Kitty Orchid Garden Cafe
Assuming an elegant and poised setting, white intricately-designed fences draw the perimeters of the 84-seater cafe, the interior is resplendent with lush green potted plants and symbolic purple orchids. The first – and only – Hello Kitty-themed cafe in Singapore opened on May 12 to a snaking queue that persists till today, its location being none other than Changi Airport.
Designed by Yuko Shimizu and subsequently recognised as a Sanrio character, Hello Kitty first made its appearance on a vinyl coin purse sold in Japan in 1974. It has since taken the world by storm – Singapore is the latest addition to the list of Hello Kitty-themed cafes around the world, which includes cities such as Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Setting itself apart from other Hello Kitty-themed cafes in the world, the month-old cafe offers locally-inspired dishes, such as wagyu beef rendang and orange sugee cake for dessert. In response to TMG’s queries, Mr Andrew Khoo, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Business Development & Operations of the Food & Beverage Division at ABR Holdings, said that this concept was introduced to “reflect some of Singapore’s favourite traditional local dishes and flavours”. He added that the company is constantly researching and developing new dishes, which will be added to the existing menu once every few months.
Some other dishes include: Big Breakfast Surprise (scrambled eggs and smoked duck slices) for $18.50, Kitty Goes Fishing (baked salmon with diced macadamia) priced at $23.90, and Rose Rose I Love You (orange sugee cake) for $17.50.
Ms Shelly Yong, 39, a housewife and a Hello Kitty fan, said that infusing local flavours into the menu added “more local appeal” and is something “symbolic for Singaporeans”.
But even Mr Khoo acknowledges the challenge of running a character-themed cafe: “Novelty will attract customers the first time round, but a consistent and elevated dining experience is the key to longevity”.
That novelty is helped by the Internet. Fiona Zheng, 14, an Indonesian currently studying in Singapore, said what drew her to the cafe was the outpour of photos on social media. “A lot of people post it on Instagram and my friends say it is Instagram-worthy,” she said.
Indeed, the hype on the Internet led Ms Emily Kwok and two of her friends, who were on a three-day holiday, to join the constant queue comprising some 12 customers when we visited. The 27-year-old radiographer from Perth said that they were not Hello Kitty fans, but wanted their share in the latest fad on Facebook and Instagram. She lauded the intricate design and ‘garden city’ landscape of the cafe, comparing it to the Hello Kitty outlet in Taiwan which she had visited before. “The setting here in Singapore is nicer, in terms of the layout. I like the garden,” said Ms Kwok. 
The airport was picked for the world’s first 24-hour Hello Kitty-themed cafe, because “the airport never closes,” said Mr Khoo.
However, Ms Yong feels otherwise. “The location is weird though, it is not located in town,” remarked Ms Yong. She said that while it is convenient for residents who stay near the airport like herself, it is less accessible for others.

2. DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe
It is a dream come true for Mr John Teo, an avid superhero fan and the managing director of J.T. Network, who runs DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The 10-month-old cafe houses life-sized figurines of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, a life-sized model of the Batmobile, with DC comics series posters plastered on the walls.
Fueled by his passion for comics and superheroes, Mr Teo fulfilled his goal of creating an “immersive DC Comics universe experience”, a place where family and friends could dine and hang out. For avid superhero fans, the merchandise corner boasts a series of limited edition items, the latest being the display of the original autographed poster for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Mr Brandon Chu, marketing specialist of DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe, said that special menus are created to coincide with the release of movies by Warner Bros and DC Comics. The recent premiere of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice film, for instance, sparked the creation of two new dishes, the BvS Batman Burger and BvS Superman Burger. Mr Chu said that the popularity of the burgers prompted them to extend the menu offering even after the movie was no longer showing in theatres.

Its signature dish, Batman’s Wagyu Beef Jaw Burger for $31.90, comes with wagyu beef and foie gras butter served in charcoal burger bun with the Batman logo.
The first superhero-themed cafe in Singapore has an interesting mix of clientele, depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend. Tourists make up 60 per cent of the customer base on weekdays, but 40 per cent on weekends. The remaining percentage are locals. “MBS is a landmark for tourists”, said Mr Chu, which “keeps us rocking well in Singapore”.
He is cognisant of the short-lived nature of such character-themed cafes, saying “the hard truth is they have a life span of less than five years”. This means that food and service quality remain the pivotal factors to “sustain as a usual cafe”. “Then, we don’t have to worry about competitors”, said Mr Chu.
To all Suicide Squad fans, you may wish to keep your eyes peeled, as an unique menu will be put forth in conjunction with the film’s release in August this year. The cafe is also currently in the midst of searching for a suitable location for its second branch, on top of plans to expand this concept overseas.

3. Pompompurin Cafe

The golden retriever character was first introduced in 1996, and subsequently ranked first among other Sanrio characters in 2015. A testament to its popularity, this prompted Mr Kawaguchi Kiyoshi, Managing Director of Create Restaurants Asia, to bring Pompompurin cafe to Singapore.
The brightly-lit ambience – attributed to its location next to the full-length glass windows and yellow painted walls – is one that catches the eye when walking past the 78-seater cafe on the fourth level of Orchard Central. Diners are greeted by the arch-shaped gate that assumes the shape of Pompompurin, followed by a statuette of Pompompurin and friends – a photo souvenir for fans, and four “Tomodachi House” which translates into Friends House, each featuring one of Pompompurin’s friends.
The third outlet worldwide following Hong Kong and Taiwan, Singapore’s Pompompurin cafe sees a persistent queue of one to two hours waiting time during the weekends, and approximately 45 minutes during weekday evenings. The queue usually begins at 6pm, said Ms Jovy Alcantara, 26, assistant manager of the branch. She added that customers are usually in their teens. When we visited on a weekday evening slightly before nine, there was still a queue of five to six customers.
Ms Wyncy Tan, corporate designer of Create Restaurants Asia, which operates Pompompurin cafe, said the cafe, which opened in mid-April, filled a gap in the Singapore scene – “the lack of the Japanese ‘Kawaii’ culture”, which instils a sense of novelty and nostalgia at the same time. ‘Kawaii’ refers to the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture. Customers are usually fans who would take pictures of the Pompompurin-themed food and with the ‘treehouses’ and statuettes.
But even such novelty may wear out, said Ms Tan, referring to declining patronage at the three Pompompurin cafes in Japan. The Singapore cafe “strives to consistently introduce new items”, she added. Its menu includes Spaghetti Napolitana priced at $26.99, Everybody Gather Around Picnic Plate for $24.99 (includes eggs benedict and sandwiches) and Bagel’s Special Pancake Tower priced at $21.99 for dessert.
She is right.
Taiwanese student Ellen Howh, 22, lauded the cafe for its comfortable setting and elaborate design, but suggests a wider menu than just the six meals to choose from.

5. Pokemon Cafe

It has been two weeks since the official opening of the first Pokemon-themed pop-up cafe in town, and the queue hasn’t disappeared. When we visited on a weekday afternoon slightly after 4pm, we were greeted by a queue comprising some 20 customers – families with children, teenagers, and even a few tourists.
Temporarily occupying the premises of Everything With Fries, the temporary pop-up cafe located on the fourth floor of Bugis Junction will cease operations after July 31. This new concept of a ‘pop-up’ cafe is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, following the success of the Pokemon cafe that opened in Shibuya over a three-month period early last year.
Manager Christopher Hobday said they had decided to introduce the concept to “try out how themed cafes will work out in Singapore”. The 28-year-old noted the short life span of character cafes, saying: “I don’t think it can last very long, as usually customers come only once. We seldom have regular customers, hence we decided on the idea of a pop-up cafe.”
Business has been brisk thus far. Mr Hobday said that during peak hours, the waiting time could stretch from 45 minutes to one hour, with about 30 to 40 customers in line. With a large majority of its clientele consisting of primary and secondary school kids, Mr Hobday said that customers he sees range from ages five to fifty-five.
Fans or not, the crowd flocked to the merchandise corner, taking turns to have a closer peek at the merchandise offered – and their prices. Some of the merchandise include Mega Mewtwo Y Plush toy priced at $48, Pokemon Cafe Limited Item Cotton Tote Bag for $20.22, and Limited Item T-shirts (Kids) for $28.78. Just by the entrance is a standing photo booth with illustrations of several Pokemon, where fans can don Pokemon suits to have their pictures taken.